Courses for Parents and Children

We offer courses around County Clare in many venues. We try to have classes close to where people live if possible

  • Courses are fun, friendly and relaxed
  • We need eight people to start a class
  • Classes usually run once per week for two hours
  • Our priority are parents/carers who may have left school at Leaving Certificate level or before
  • Courses run from September to June each year
  • Courses are short from 6 – 10 weeks for taster sessions

Our Courses

Below you’ll find a list of all our current courses. You can filter select a course category to show only the courses in that category.

Course Categories:

Computer Skills

Email, Internet searches, Online shopping, Skype. How to use Microsoft Word. This module can be accredited at Quality Qualification Ireland (QQI) Level 2.

Dads and Lads

Fun things to do together Dads/adult brothers/grandfathers and their sons, brothers, grandsons.

  • Sport: Soccer, Bowling, Sports Quiz, Scrapbook about sport,
  • Fun Science Experiments: Make a volcano erupt, Make raisins dance. Light a bulb using a lemon, magnet fun etc.
  • Games, Gadgets and Machines: Use magnets, marbles, make land yachts etc.
  • Fun 4 Health: Keep healthy, healthy hearts, balancing the body, senses games

Digital Stories

Create a digital story using art work, photographs or images, and personalise with text, voice, or /and music.

Families Reading Every Day FRED

Week 1

Topics and Activities

Introduction and brief overview for parents

Why reading with your child so important?

Enjoying a good story! Tutor invites parents to get comfortable and listen to a story together!

Choosing a book for your child: What makes a ‘good book’ for children?

Parents choose a book for their child which they take home. They can also take and use a reading-log if this would be motivating for them


Week 2

Topics and Activities

Parents share their experiences: Feedback from parents on their chosen books

Tips and demonstration on how to read with your child

Talking about books and developing ‘book talk’ with children

Parents choose and take home another book and use some of the ‘book talk’ ideas with their child

Week 3

Topics and Activities

Children could join parents for some of this session and get involved choosing their own book. Parents and children could give feedback from previous book

Hands-on-Activity: Making a book together

Parents and children read together and listen to their stories.

Parents get a copy of websites they can look at before the next session


Week 4

Topics and Activities

Parents choose final book

How best to help reluctant and struggling readers

·         Tips Handout (from dyslexia action website


Practical ideas to encourage family reading habits:

·         Online resources: Interesting websites and You Tube clips

·         Creating a positive reading environment at home

·         Joining your local library

-Parents look at library website and do short related activity (possible library


-Parent’s Exit Questionnaire and Evaluation-

FRED-Families Reading Every Day: To encourage parents to engage with their children’s emerging literacy and to develop the habit of reading regularly with their children

Family Health

Focusing on the language skills and terms needed when meeting health care professionals. Classes are based on the health needs of both children and parents.

Family Learning and Active Citizenship

Gives an overview of the political system and how to get your voice heard.

Family Learning and Irish

Practical and fun activities in Irish to help parents support their children’s homework. For complete beginners and people who have forgotten their school Irish.

Family Learning Classes for Parents/Grandparents

A space for parents to learn for themselves:
Sewing, Cookery, Art, Crafts, Stained glass, Gardening, Music and Drama, Car maintenance, Woodwork.

Family Learning through Play, Rhymes and Songs

Learn why rhymes, songs  and play are so important in children’s learning. Children can attend with parents.

Family Stories in a Box

Use family stories, objects, photographs and treasured items to make an individual mini museum.


Fun Maths

In school setting: parents work with a tutor in advance of going into the classroom and working with small groups of children.

In community setting: Parents and their children work together on exciting maths based activities.

Fun Science

In school setting: parents learn with a tutor before taking small groups of children to do activities in the classroom.

In community setting: parents and their children work together on exciting experiments.

Fun things to do with your child

Parents and children attend together and work on fun projects, e.g. gardening, crafts, cooking, computer coding, digital photography, etc.


Growing Together

Parents and children work together on allotment or school garden

Healthy Family Cooking

Parents learn ways of providing nutritious food that is cheap and easy to prepare.

Helping younger children learn

Learn ways to help your child’s speaking, reading and writing skills. (0-7 years)

Helping your Dyslexic Child

What parents can do to help their child, some practical tools and tips for learning and homework.

How to use a computer, laptop, ipad, tablet or smart phone.

Keep up to date with the latest technology.

Introduction to Project Maths for Parents

Short introductory course for parents. Learn about curriculum changes in Maths at Junior and Senior Cycle at second level.

Learning the Language of School

For parents whose first language is not English. Understand how school works in Ireland and practise English language skills with other parents.

Looking after the family, Looking after me.

Looking after the family,

Looking after me




Seven week course outlining:

  • Managing the family home,
  • Quick and easy dishes
  • Ways to save money


Developed by Noelle Eakins, Tutor,


Clare Family Learning Project and St. Vincent de Paul

September 2016


‘Looking after the family, looking after me’

A seven week programme to support parents who may find it difficult to cope with running a home. An element of cookery is built into each class to encourage attendance. Two tutors will deliver each session to support the skills of the participant and their ability to cope with their situation. There are separate handouts from various agencies e.g. Money, Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and Health Service Executive (HSE) to supplement classes. Classes will always include a cookery session and a discussion. A number of topics will be offered to participants so that they choose the class content. This can be extended to a 14 week course, with 6 hour a week as an Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education (ITABE) course.

Class Topic Content
1 Easy home management and cooking

Welcome  Introductions Paperwork

Overview of six sessions.

Filing documents in the home

Home budgeting

Chilli con Carne Soup

Chicken Curry and Boiled Rice

2 Cleaning and maintenance

Hygiene in the home, Cleaning Agents, Home Safety, Food and mood,

Smoky Pea and Onion Quorn

3 Food health

Relaxation, Dealing with stress,

Childcare, Ideal weight for children.

Ideas for lunches, soups and lunch boxes.

Simple Bean Curry,

Vegetable Soup,

Stir-Fry Noodles

4 Food hygiene Convenience foods, diet behaviour and learning in children. Using leftovers. Breakfast ideas.       Pan Fried Quesadillas
5 Consumers /shopping

Field trip to the shops.

How to shop smart.

Three Minute Mug Cake

6 First aid

Laundry and clothes care.

Diet linked to feelings.

Pot Luck Frittata 

7 Conserving Energy

Ways to save money by being aware of energy waste.

Cheats Chicken and Leek in a creamy sauce


Evaluation will include a discussion at the end of each class with notes taken by the tutors. A more detailed evaluation will happen on the final night to access if the course requires adjusting to meet needs more accurately and if follow on courses are requested. The Adult Guidance service or Local Development Worker may attend on one evening to provide information on what is on offer to participants in their local area.


Review of ‘Looking after the family, Looking after me’ Pilot Project

Clare Family Learning Project       Spring 2017


While promoting Family Learning courses to members of funding organisation it was suggested that many parents the funder meets need help with household budgeting and general home management skills, including cookery. A seven week pilot programme was developed by Clare Family Learning Project in conjunction with guidance from the funder. The programme was delivered from 20th January to 10th March 2017 in Ennis. Funder provided the tuition costs, while CFLP provided venue, materials and ingredients.

Programme curriculum

A tutor with the CFLP was tasked with expanding the key topics for a seven week course. She provided a wide range of topics and useful links, resources and recipes for learners. A handbook was developed for tutors to use. Due to the nature of the course it was felt that two tutors would work together to support learners. Some may need extra support as sensitive information may arise. As this was a pilot project a pre and post short survey was used to gather information to assess the impact of the new learning.


The pilot project was mentioned at a number of LCETB programme managers meetings and Local Area Network meetings. This resulted in a number of agencies contacting CFLP requesting the handbook for use with their own clients e.g. homeless group and women’s refuge organisation.

The course was promoted in and around Ennis through SVP, Clare Family Learning Project and relevant community and government agencies locally: Clare Immigrant Support Services, Clarecare, Public Health Nurses, Home School Community Liaison Coordinators in schools, Traveller Primary Healthcare Project, etc.

Gathering information

Participant analysis

Ten participants attended the course, seven Irish and three migrants attended.  Two male and eight female. One person wanted to get support as she would soon be living independently. Nine were early school leavers. Three have disabilities, while one is a migrant worker.  Five are Long Term Unemployed, two are unemployed less than a year while two are not in the Labour Market while one is employed in low paid job. Five attended on last day for evaluations.

Learners were aged between 32 and 71, with an average age of 41.

Four had primary education, four had lower second level education and two had some upper second level education.

Two were Brothers of Charity referrals, and one was referred from Department of Social Protection.

Attendance was very good with four of those attending having 100% attendance, while two missed just one day out of seven.



On the first day after introductions, learners completed a short survey on what they currently do at home regarding budgeting and managing. They were then provided with a selection of topics they could choose from. The following were chosen: Easy home management and cookery, Cleaning and maintenance, Food health, Food hygiene, Consumer skills and shopping, and Basic First aid. Each class included a cookery demonstration.

Pre and post results for six learners:

  • Learner one

Is more careful when using home heating, has less food going off now, is trying a new recipe once a week, is sorting out paperwork weekly, and is now saving money monthly.

  • Learner two

Now always watches for special offers, reduces home heating when necessary, sorts out paperwork more regularly, is doing regular exercise previously did no exercise. She is talking with her children about healthier diets.

  • Learner three

Watches for special offers, is more careful of using energy in the home, has tried some recipes and has become more aware of healthier options when shopping.

  • Learner four

Started to repair clothes, makes meal plans before shopping, uses new ingredients more.

  • Learner five

Reduces the heat now, is cooking meals at home more regularly, tries the odd new recipe, and less food is going to waste.

  • Learner six

Less food is going to waste, making a daily meal plan has helped, using tumble drier less now.

Weekly objectives

The group decided themselves on class objectives and it can be seen that after the course there was a definite improvement in their knowledge:

I’d like to know more about food health and how to deal with stress

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 5 6 5 6
Post course 8 9 9 8 7



I’d like to be a smart shopper

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 4 5 5 7
Post course 8 7 8 8 9


I’d like to know more about different cleaning products

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 2 3 5 8
Post course 8 6 7 9 10


I’d like to be more organised

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 3 5 5 5 7
Post course 9 8 9 9 9


Where was I before I started the course?

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 5 5 7
Post course 9 9 9


Issues among class group:

Week 1

  • Struggling to find things, forgetting to pay an energy bill and electricity was cut off, found learning to eat Gluten free useful for family,
  • Tips from group: Write in red marker on outside of envelope not to forget what it contains, e.g. bills for ESB etc.

Week 2

  • Tips: Put a wet cloth in microwave and turn on for short while the steam softens the grime making it easier to clean. Clean one room at a time. Do jobs in the morning before you get tired. Turn music on helps to get on with cleaning the home. Don’t overload sockets in case of fire. Make sure batteries are in smoke alarms.

Week 3

  • Tips: Try deep breathing exercises to de-stress. Finding out about the body e.g. BMI is good and they plan to reduce their sugar intake. One person will buy natural sugar substitute. Two aim to do some exercises daily. One plans to make homemade soup.


Week 4

  • Plan to waste less food by using it in new recipes now. Plan to buy less food and avoid waste.

Week 5

  • Went on shop visit to spot consumer tricks, food labelling.

Week 6

  • Used YouTube to learn how to put someone in the recovery position. First Aid tips.


  • Literacy, numeracy and digital skills were embedded in each class in a natural way. The high attendance rate showed this type of class works to retain learners. Having two tutors was very useful to support the learners and gather information. The project has been very successful in supporting those on low incomes to better manage their finances.


Report by Mary Flanagan

Tutors: Noelle Eakins prepared the Resource Pack and co-facilitated the course.

Colette O’Brien documented and co-facilitated the course.

Making Puppets

Parents make puppets to use with their child. Accreditation is possible at QQI Level 3 Design module.

My Baby and Me

My Baby and Me

General aims of these sessions:

·         To engage early school leaver mothers of young children

·         To increase parent and child interaction on literacy/numeracy activities at home

·         Provide a book each class per family to use at home (or use library as venue)

·         For parents to meet others and share useful ideas on supporting their children’s learning

·         To experience a positive, stimulating and friendly learning environment

·         For parents to become positive role models for their children’s learning and to continue their own lifelong learning journey

Topic Content
  1. Sharing Books

When can I start to read to my baby?

Why is it important?

How to do this.

What books to use. Joining the library.

  1. Play and routines

Why is play and routines so important?

What is involved- language, thinking skills

Types of play. Safety tips. Reading as part of routine.

  1. Talking together with your baby

Why should I talk to my baby?

Helping children communicate

How reading helps talking. Listening skills

  1. Sharing songs and rhymes

What can children learn from rhymes?

Listening for patterns

What rhymes can we remember?

What songs do children sing?  Books with rhymes

  1. Technology and children

How much screen time for baby?

Making the most of television

Digital toys/ books versus traditional toys/books. Online safety tips

The importance of parent and child interaction

  1. Feeding  your baby

When to start? Weaning tips

What do we use now? Cost versus nutrition

Staying healthy Mum and baby.  Three sample meals

       Useful websites:  Good worksheets  parent advice and support  Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick Rhymers are readers  Importance of play  Feeding babies



Literacy begins at Home

A Review of My Baby and Me Pilot Project 2013-2015

Mary Flanagan, Coordinator, Clare Family Learning Project




Clare Family Learning Project responded to a request by a funder to develop, pilot and evaluate a course targeting priority mothers and their babies. On gathering information from various stakeholders a My Baby and Me course was developed. Parents attended with their young baby avoiding the need for childcare. The course stressed the importance of the parent’s role in helping very young children’s oral language, storytelling and future reading skills. It was felt that waiting until children reached pre-school may be too late. A free high quality book was provided to each family at each class. Ten courses were delivered between autumn 2013 and July 2015 reaching 54 parents in three locations. Evaluations show parents did not realise they played such an important educational role in their children’s lives and many changed their behaviour as a result: visiting the library, spending more time reading together and being more conscious of talking together. The pilot project showed that mothers wanted to learn more, were eager to help their children, while learning was immediately useful and relevant to the participant’s own lives.

The course could be used in other locations as a way to attract parents into an informal learning environment who otherwise would not engage or progress in adult or further education.









Flanagan, M. (2016). Literacy Begins At Home. A Review of My Baby and Me Pilot Project 2013-2015. in Haugh, K. (Ed.) Limerick Education Centre and Clare Education Centre – 2016 Research Conference Journal. Volume IV p58-62.







  1. A brief history of Clare Family Learning Project

Denny Taylor (1983) coined the phrase ‘family literacy’ as she became aware of the literacy happening naturally in homes prior to children starting school. Family learning is a more holistic term focusing on positive learning experiences and has become an umbrella term which describes a wide variety of educational intervention programmes that have an intergenerational focus in their design and delivery (Godfrey and Green, 2000).

Clare Family Learning Project (CFLP) was established in 1994 in response to local parents’ requests for literacy support to help with their children’s homework. Following a series of pilot projects a resource pack was developed and published in 2000. Training for facilitators to deliver courses to parents began in 1999. By 2015, 48 courses were provided nationally, reaching 769 tutors. In 2014 the project reached over 400 parents across the county, delivering 52 courses, using 26 different course types in 23 venues. The project is based within the adult literacy services of Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.


  1. Scoping exercise

2.1 Setting the discussion in context.

Initial meetings between the funder and CFLP, held in May 2013 examined the emergent literacy needs of very young children and ways to support early school leaver mothers. Discussions included how to engage hard to reach parents, identify gaps in local provision and creating an informal learning environment with a strong literacy focus. Breaking the intergenerational cycle of educational disadvantage by encouraging mothers to return to education allows children (who will be at risk of leaving school early) to see positive attitudes and lifelong learning engagement. The pilot builds on the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy priority of enabling parents and communities to support children’s literacy and numeracy development (2011, p19).

  1. 2 Background research

Literacy begins at home. Taylor (1983) examined literacy practices within families. Her work showed that literate environments at home are often a prelude to academic achievement in school. Problems arise if the home literacy is not the same as the dominant literacy used in school. Evidence from the Hart-Risley (1996) long-term study showed ‘…children who hear a wealth of language before age three will experience success in school. The study shows that children who have experienced an abundance of language in the form of positive, articulate conversation and read-alouds will have heard 32 million more words than their peers on starting school.’ It showed that children in monolingual homes can start school 18 months behind in language skills if there is little parent child interaction and reading at home.


Research in Britain in the 1980s serving to justify family literacy programmes, examined the extent of young children’s knowledge of literacy before formal schooling (Hall 1987), awareness of story (Wells, 1987), knowledge of letters (Tizard, Blatchford, Burket, Farquhar, & Plewis 1988), and phonological awareness (Bryant & Bradley, 1985). If children have these forms of knowledge at school entry, it seems reasonable to infer that they have acquired them in their families. If they do not have these desirable forms of knowledge, family literacy programs can help children acquire them (Bird et al. 2012. p326).

Bird and Pahl (1994) found pioneering approaches by adult literacy tutors showed that literacy courses for parents in community settings could, in a non-judgemental way, help parents understand how to support their children’s developing literacy.  The findings from the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education report ‘Young Parents: Does that include us?’ (NIACE: 2005) gives clues as to what might be needed to reach young parents locally in Clare. The report found parents wanted: ‘…to meet other parents and share their experiences; for their children to increase their social development; to improve their own career or employment prospects; to have their own practical needs met before they could settle and engage; venues close to where they lived, having an environment that was unlike school, advice on topics of interest to them and how they can influence and support their children’s skills.’ The report suggested having empathetic staff delivering short programmes that achieve quick success, boosts confidence and encourages attendance. The first six week My Baby and Me course was developed borrowing the title from the Adult Literacy Service in County Sligo Vocational Education Committee.

2.3 Gathering information

Meetings with staff from a wide variety of community settings were conducted to ascertain the level of need, and to locate possible venues close to where parents lived.

  1. Review of work done

CFLP developed, piloted and evaluated a six week course for parents and their babies (0-3), with a strong focus on oral language, storytelling and reading. From November 2013 to July 2015 ten My Baby and Me courses were delivered in County Clare. Seven of these were delivered in Location A, with two in Location B and one in Location C. Word of the pilot spread and in Spring 2015 two primary schools both within the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) initiative, requested the project deliver the course in house.

3.1 Aims

The course aimed to provide parents with a positive, stimulating and friendly learning environment; increasing parent and child interaction on literacy activities at home; provision of a free book per family each class encouraging reading together at home; social opportunities for parents and children; and for parents to become positive role models for their children as lifelong learners. The course was broken down into six topics: sharing books with baby, playing is learning, talking together with baby, sharing songs and rhymes, technology and children and feeding your baby.

3.2 Promotion

Forty-three people were contacted from a wide range of state agencies, schools, health providers, community groups and other services to promote the course to parents who would benefit most. There was strong support for the pilot and many referred clients. A variety of media promotions were used including print, radio, social media and online local newspapers.


  • Attendance

140 hours of tuition was provided. 70 parents attended over ten courses, reaching a total of 54 mothers and one father. Some attended more than one programme. Eight parents attended more than one course. 17 participants had full attendance with 15 participants at 80% attendance. Learners included 38 long term unemployed, 12 unemployed with 19 working part time. Two had no formal education, seven had primary education, 24 lower second level and 13 attended some upper second level education, with seven having Level 6. Priority mothers included four Roma, three Travellers, a refugee and three migrants whilst seven single parents attended. Both external and internal barriers impacted on participation, including ill health, appointments, low levels of confidence, shift work.


  1. Findings
  • The programme was successful in reaching parents who had left school early.
  • Parents completed a pre and post short questionnaire on each course, recording the levels of existing talk, reading, play and technology use at home between parent and child. Most parents were reading once per week. This changed to reading daily in most cases.
  • An intercultural aspect developed as parents shared stories and traditions from their backgrounds.
  • Providing a free book for baby per family each week was attractive to parents.
  • Most parents wanted to continue to learn. One mother met with the Coordinator of the One to One Literacy provision and started classes. Many did not know how to access education as an adult. This short course stimulated an interest in a choice of
  • Parents shared their problems for example some worried about the Public Health Nurse visiting their home. As a result the Public Health Nurse was invited to attend and listen to concerns. Having prepared their questions as a group gave parents confidence.
  • The class became a peer support group and friendships formed as some visited each others’ homes between classes.
  • Quite a high proportion of mothers never visited the library. A library visit was included on each course, the majority of mothers signed up if they were not already members.
  • Useful websites, Youtube clips, apps and blogs were shared while concerns about children growing up in a bilingual home were addressed.
  • Parents were surprised at the importance of their role as their child’s first teacher, generating feelings of increased responsibility, confidence and a commitment to helping their baby learn.
  • All parents had a positive learning experience and recommended more courses as their children get older.
  • CFLP through a strong promotional campaign built up good relationships with many agencies, leading to ongoing referrals to other family learning courses.

5.0 Lessons Learned

The age profile of parents was older than expected with the majority in the 25-40 age group. Increased use of social media to promote future classes for parents under 25 is planned.

Retaining the flexibility to add extra classes to meet the requests of parents is important. Parents requested support on learning some first aid tips and were anxious about delays in language development. The project was able to respond with a visit from the Public Health Nurse, while the Speech and Language Therapist also visited courses. Having experienced tutors who empathize with what parents are going through is important.

The pilot was successful in supporting parents who had left school early. Parents are very much equal partners with schools in helping their children learn. It is hoped that this pilot will have a long term impact on both the parent and their baby in their relationships and learning. Literacy that begins in the home can be supported by the family as the lifelong learning journey begins for each child.



Bird, V., Brooks, G., and Hannon, P., 2012.  Family Literacy in England  in Hanna Wasik, B. (Ed.) Handbook of Family Literacy  2nd Edition. London: Routledge. p 326,

Bird, V. & Pahl, K. (1994). Parent literacy in a community setting. RaPAL Bulletin, No.24 (Summer), 6-15.

Department of Education and Skills. 2011. Literacy and Numeracy Learning For Life. DES: Dublin.

Dutton, Y., Haggart, J., Smith, L. 2005. National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, National Youth Agency (NYA), Young Adults Learning Partnership : ‘Young Parents: Does that include us?’  Leicester, England: NIACE.

Godfrey, J. and Greene, M. (2000) Family Learning Resource Guide.  Ennis: Clare Family Learning Project.

Hart B. and Risley T.1996. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore: Brooks Publishing. p.98.


Taylor, D. 1983. Family Literacy: Young Children Learning to Read and Write. Exeter, New Hampshire: Heinemann. p120.




Settling into Second Level School

Information and ideas to help support your child’s move to second level.

Social Media and Online Safety

Understand how Facebook, Twitter, Apps work. How to keep you and your family safe online.


Parents choose two free books to suit their child’s interests. Bring the story to life for your child using props, background and games.

Supporting Your Child’s Maths Homework

Parents can ask about the maths curriculum at primary school level.